India-Indonesia defense partnership: Limitless Opportunities

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India-Indonesia defense partnership: Limitless Opportunities
(Source: Special Doc.)

Jakarta, IO – The geographical proximity between the two countries calls for closer defence ties. “India’s Great Nicobar Island in the Andaman Sea is barely 163 km from the Sabang district of Indonesia’s Aceh province. The geographical proximity of these two large democracies and their strategic locations in the Indian Ocean make them natural partners for maritime security. The leaders of both countries are invested in a shared vision for the Indo-Pacific. While defence cooperation has garnered most bilateral attention, there is still greater scope for exploration in this domain, particularly as it pertains to defence industry. This will in turn aid greater synchronicity on the Indo-Pacific,” writes Akash Sahu in an article titled “India-Indonesia: Expanding Cooperation to Include Defence Industry” for New Delhi-based Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies. 

“Indian naval systems like anti-submarine warfare (ASW) corvettes and advanced offshore patrol vessels (AOPV) could be of interest to Indonesia given its significant—and the world’s third longest—coastline. New Delhi could also assist Jakarta’s attempts to strengthen and expand military bases in the South China Sea’s (SCS) Natuna region, which is vulnerable to Chinese incursions. India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) plans to develop Apache-like military attack helicopters by 2027. The director of HAL has also hinted at the export potential of these helicopters. In Indonesia, aircraft purchases accounted for 38.1 per cent of the country’s total arms imports between 1999 and 2018. Jakarta’s current acquisitions as well as its long-term plans—of acquiring 230 new combat aircraft of different varieties—highlight the country’s goals. There is opportunity for collaboration here via HAL, for which Jakarta’s existing business model with Seoul—of obtaining a stake and sharing costs— could be followed,” writes Sahu. 

General Prabowo Subianto, the Defense Minister of Indonesia, paid a three day visit to India from 26-28 July 2020 and agreed to expand the strategic cooperation in the realm of defence and military ties with their focus on defence industries and technology sharing, as they tried to identify potential areas of cooperation in the fields of defence industry and defence technology. They have further discussed on strengthening bilateral cooperation and take the defence ties to the “next level of deliverables”. The possible export of BrahMos cruise missile by India to Indonesia is on the table. The visit by Indian Deputy National Security Adviser in late 2021 to Jakarta and National Security Adviser to Jakarta in 2022 have provided momentum to defence partnership.